I can’t decide if this actually is the last weekend for beautiful New England foliage. I feel like I should spend my weekend really appreciating it, taking long walks, and noting how much more beautiful—how much more rich—the landscape is out here than in my hometown of Machesney Park, Illinois. But I can’t seem to pull myself away from David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, which is, itself, slow going, but only because it’s DFW-dense and of course thrown together—not haphazardly, there’s clearly some things I’m sure Michael Pietsch wanted to fuse together better or pitch all together—in a way that makes the reading experience more of a challenge.
I’m finding it to be a pleasant read, if not a little creepy, given that one of the characters—the “irrelevant” “wastoid” (but never together) Chris Fogle, of the “wastoid” novella in chapter 22—went to my elementary school—Machesney Elementary—and is from that un-rich, un-beautifully landscaped hometown and (almost) shares an odd mental tic, that being his ability to count the words on a page/in conversation, mine being the ability to count the letters in a word on a page/in conversation.
I feel a bit like Harold Crick, to be honest.
But, anyway, some housekeeping: please read the great conversation I had with John Warner that was published over at The Morning News this week. It was a very fun time, very cordial, casual, all that, and John was understanding of my ardent disdain for his book. So much so, in fact, that you can look for a little guest post from him later this week! It was obviously good pub for our site, and a lot of fun seeing my name in the bright lights somewhere. Even if some of the commenters didn’t take to my logic or my love of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (is there a more harmlessly funny, innocuous movie from that decade?) or my explanation for why I disliked The Funny Man, I think I came off as less of a knob than I feared.
Setting aside my own vanity, I think it was a valuable discussion about not only the relationship between author and reviewer but also author and reader. As commenters over at TMN noted, it’s important for the reviewer to be aware of the reader’s presence; that is, to understand that hyperbolic/overly mean reviews—which I don’t think mine was—can often hurt feelings. That John sought me out and had such a substantive conversation, however, makes me hopeful that whatever he may have felt after reading my initial review may have dissipated.
Plus, this is only his first novel! John will write another, and I’ll be anxious to read and review that whenever that day comes.
DBCers, DBCers, everywhere. Our own super-talented Marnie Shure was published again, this time in Tuck Magazine. Marnie’s flash “The Museums of Kyiv” is very good. Go read it. Any more praise would compromise my legitimacy as a reviewer.